Avery girls edge Watauga in fourth quarter
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's girls' basketball team had Avery up against it Tuesday night at Lentz-Eggers Gym.
The Pioneers, who led Avery during the first three quarters, held a 10-point lead near the end of the third after both teams went through a scoring dry spell later in the quarter.
Then Avery, after falling by 10 points in the third, rallied in the fourth quarter, while Watauga stopped scoring.
Avery managed to claim a 37-36 victory over Watauga by going on a nearly quarter-long 13-3 run that ended with a three-point play by Lauren Burleson with 15.7 left in the game. Her play gave the Vikings a 35-33 lead Avery would never lose.
"The difference probably was a defensive adjustment," Avery coach Matt Wiseman said. "We picked up out offense a lot in the second half. We have to get better offensively and step up and make some plays."
Watauga's offense, which was not spectacular -- but steady in the first two-and-a-half quarters -- fell nearly silent in the fourth. Part of that was by the Vikings' desire of taking Watauga's leading scorer, Savanna Wood, out of her rhythm. Wood finished with 13 points, but did not score in the fourth quarter.
"All the credit needs to go to Avery," Watauga coach Klay Anderson said. "They continued to make plays in the second half and we just didn't. We had some great opportunities down the stretch and we just couldn't convert."
Watauga (0-2), after Katherine Stapleton scored early in the fourth, went 0-for-7 from the field and made two turnovers during an 8-0 Avery run that ended with two foul shots by Kylie Polsgrove with 2:33 left in the game.
"We've been struggling all year finding our offensive rhythm," Wiseman said. "The key tonight was our defensive adjustment to take Wood out of the game."
Watauga put the Vikings' 8-0 run to a screeching halt when Ryan Loflin cashed in on a three-point play with 1:35 left, which gave the Pioneers a 33-30 lead. But the Pioneers missed two straight one-and-one free throws, and Avery (3-2) got two Burleson free throws pulled the Vikings to within one.
Watauga trailed 35-34 when Avery's Katie Rigdon drained two foul shots with 9.0 seconds left. Loflin nearly tied the game when she drove the length of the court, made a driving layup and got fouled while shooting.
Loflin could not convert the three-point play, and Burleson's rebound ended the game.
"I'm really heartbreaking for the girls," Anderson said. "I couldn't ask for better energy or effort on the defensive end. We did an outstanding job boxing out. We just couldn't get shots to fall."
Loflin finished with 11 points for the Pioneers. Burleson finished with 12 points and Rigdon finished with nine for Avery.
Watauga plays at Alexander Central on Wednesday and hosts border rival Ashe on Friday.
Avery plays at Alleghany on Friday and hosts Watauga on Monday.
Avery 37, Watauga 36
Avery 37 (3-2)
Polsgrove 2 3-5 7, Hoilman 0 0-0 0, B. Burleson 1 0-0 3, Rigdon 2 4-5 9, Heaton 2 2-2 6, L. Burleson 4 3-5 12, Guzeman 0 0-0 0, Poore 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Ramsey 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 12-17 37.
Watauga 36 (0-2)
Wood 4 3-4 13, Derrick 2 0-0 4, Harris 0 0-1 0, Loflin 4 3-6 11, McNeill 2 0-1 4, Stapleton 1 0-0 2, Carroll 0 0-0 0, Millsaps 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0-0 0, Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 6-12 36.
Avery 5 6 11 15 -- 37
Watauga 11 7 10 8 -- 36
3-point goals--Avery 3 (B. Burleson, Rigdon, l. Burleson), Watauga 2 (Wood 2). Total fouls--Avery 14, Watauga 18. Fouled out--Watauga, Harris. Technical fouls--None.